Johan Santana Out Indefinitely

Today Johan Santana admitted he won’t know when he’ll pitch again. So what happens next?

From Adam Rubin on ESPN-NY:

“I’ve just got to stay here and work out and get ready,” Santana said Saturday morning. “… I’m making progress. It’s just I don’t know when I’m going to be pitching again. That’s the thing: We cannot think ahead. The way we’re approaching everything is every day make sure we have a good day.”

Terry Collins felt it necessary to offer a time frame:

“It may take six weeks to get him where he wants to be,” manager Terry Collins said.

Unfortunately, it may take longer than that — there’s really no way to know.

With Santana out of the picture for the moment, Jeremy Hefner steps into the #5 spot in the rotation, and a bullpen spot opens up.

For those who believed at the beginning of spring training that the Mets had an outside shot at a winning season and/or a postseason appearance, does this news affect that optimism? Do you think a healthy Santana is key to the Mets’ chances of playing meaningful games in September? If so, how many starts — roughly — does he need to make? Sound off in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Paul festa March 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm
    Joe – in your experience, if there’s no structural damage, what could be the issue? Is it conditioning, muscle atrophy, or something else?
    • Joe Janish March 24, 2013 at 1:06 am
      Paul, it’s his mechanics, and it’s the same flaw that started creeping into his motion several years ago, became more common and ingrained when he joined the Mets, and eventually caused the shoulder tear. It could be described as “short-arming” which means his hand is too close to his body prior to release — you can see it in any number of photos of him mid-motion that capture his left hand holding the ball very close to his ear. This action prevents him from getting full external rotation of the shoulder, which in turn puts pressure on his bicep, which in turn tightens and pulls on the shoulder.

      The irony is that he probably is short-arming — and began short-arming — in an effort to protect the shoulder. But by doing so he inadvertently causes it more harm than good.

      • Rob March 24, 2013 at 11:35 pm
        Joe: That states the cause, but what is the current problem? Shoulder fatigue doesn’t really describe the exact problem. Is it atrophy? General weakness? Irreversible damage? What exactly is going on here? We had a similar problem arise with John Maine and look where he went. So what goes on when they say “shoulder fatigue.”
        • Joe Janish March 25, 2013 at 8:23 am
          Without being inside Santana’s head it’s hard to know exactly what kind of discomfort he’s experiencing. However, I’m guessing that he doesn’t “feel right” and/or isn’t throwing with the same ease he did two years ago. Combine the discomfort with the fact that his velocity is likely in the low 80s and he’s unable to long-toss the distances he did prior to surgery and there you have “the problem” (a.k.a., “the symptoms”).

          I wouldn’t put too much stock into injury descriptions related by baseball coaches, trainers, and PR people (such as “shoulder fatigue”), because they don’t always follow actual, universally accepted medical conditions, nor do they always have consistency in definition. Even though baseball teams hire the most expensive surgeons and doctors, they don’t necessarily follow or communicate true medical language; MLB injury language is largely idiom loosely based on medical phrases. Part of this is, I guess, is to preserve competitive advantage, part is poetic license to avoid losing ticket sales, and part is genuine ignorance.

          That’s not to say everything we hear is bogus; in fact, I bet most of the medical news we hear is correct and true. However there are vague terms thrown around that have very little connection to an actual medical condition, or is a mislabeled clinical condition. For example, we hear the diagnosis “dead arm” all the time, but if a pitcher really had “dead arm,” he wouldn’t be “pitching through it” — he’d be scheduled for an operating table.

  2. dansmith March 23, 2013 at 11:33 pm
    A full, healthy year from Santana could’ve gone a long way towards making 2013 a winning season for the Mets, but no, he alone wouldn’t be enough carry them to the playoffs. Not with this outfield and bullpen, and not in a division with the Nationals, Braves, and to a lesser extent, Phillies.

    To me, Santana had one big job this year, and that was to prove his health and pitch well until the All-Star Break so he could be traded. But with this timetable, I’m not sure he’ll have enough time to wow any GM enough to fetch a good prospect…

    • Izzy March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am
      Ah, dansmith you so accurately write about the horrid state of the Mets and the fanbase. We have sunk so low that like fans of the Pirates and other failed organizations the highlight of the season is hoping our high paid dudes get traded for a prospect to get excited about. Now that is POSITIVELY, exciting. Wonder if the Pirates will ever have a winning season so Alderson has a goal of breaking their record! POSITIVELY super exciting.
      • crozier March 24, 2013 at 10:04 am
        “Horrid state”? “Sunk so low”?

        Forgotten your history, Izzy? The current team has four years of mediocrity under its belt, virtually identical in performance to the 2001-2005 teams.

        Try 1977-83 for sustained badness: the franchise won 40% of its games during that 7 year stretch.

        • Izzy March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am
          Uh, the 2005 team showed much improvement over the previous seasons and the team was bringing first class major leaguers not rejects from other teams. And despite my horrid memory as you declare, it tells me that the 2005 season was a winning season, not be much but certainly a hell of a lot better than Alderson’s second season as my altering memory tells me that 2005 was Minaya’s second season. 77-83 were very dreary years indeed. Since we’ve only sucked for the last four years, soon to be five i must ask you, since you seem so thrilled with only 4 hideous seasons, if you enjoy the losing seasons? Is this the kind of fan that Alderson has developed; one that is happy that there have been only four straight losing seasons.
        • crozier March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am
          I don’t enjoy mediocrity. I’m not satisfied with the assembled team. I don’t think this year will be a winning season. That answers your questions. I don’t need to ask if you’ve become so cynical that a short stretch (historically speaking) of mediocrity equals “horrid,” because you’ve made that clear.

          I said this mediocre run was comparable to 01-05, and it is. It’s not better than that stretch. But, IF the team makes some decent moves in the 2013 off-season (and despite your cynicism to the contrary, they could), the team could be decent again in 2014, leaving this period no darker than the last. And either way, it’s nothing like the no-end-in-sight miseries of 77-83 (and really, that era was pretty much mediocre from 70-83, but incredibly lucky in ’73).

          I know you hated the Beltran-for-Wheeler trade, and you have nothing good to say about what Alderson has accomplished so far. But should the team become successful with its youth-movement approach, the credit will be his.

      • Izzy March 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm
        Sux
  3. TexasGusCC March 24, 2013 at 1:06 am
    He wants to screw the Mets for not letting pitch in the WBC. If this guy wanted to pitch, he either was smart and expected a ‘no’, but if he got a yes and went to pitch, he wasn’t going to embarrass himself in front of his country? I call BULLSHIT on Johan Santana. He know they’ll never let him get to 215 innings…I don’t believe his pouting. You guys get the point.
  4. John D March 24, 2013 at 12:38 pm
    I guess the whole “could Santana’s option vest” debate is moot. Right now, I’d be surprised if he pitches 150 innings.
    • Joe Janish March 25, 2013 at 8:24 am
      The over/under is 100. I’m going with the under.
      • John D. March 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm
        I agree.
  5. TexasGusCC March 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    Folks, I don’t think it is fair to Alderson to be held to the same standards as all the previous teams had. No one else inherited an economical mess and broke owners. I think cleaning it all up took time and, to be fair Onar had an open checkbook. Alderson is not allowed to touch the checkbook. Not dissing Omar, but facts are facts. With what Aderson had to work with, not that he hasn’t made mistakes, but the matters of money clearly belong to the Coupons.
    • Joe Janish March 25, 2013 at 11:19 pm
      When you say “Omar” what you really mean is “Jeffy,” right?
  6. argonbunnies March 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm
    I didn’t think the 2013 Mets could challenge for a playoff spot, but I did think it would be nice to watch good starting pitching on most days. Santana’s performance through the first half of 2012 was inspiring. Given all that he’d already done over the past 20 months, I figured he was out of the danger zone, and could remain a productive pitcher (even if his ERA rose due to worse luck). So, yeah, Santana was a big part of the 2013 Mets season for me, and a big part of why I thought we might match up well with opponents in at least one area.

    Now, though? If “general fatigue, a sprained ankle, and lower back stiffness” means he can’t touch a baseball for 6 months and then can’t make any progress in 6 weeks of camp, I think that means his career is done. It was obvious that he couldn’t pitch normally after the ankle sprain, but the team kept running him out there, and I can only guess that he destroyed his shoulder compensating for his inability to use his legs.

    They tell us his shoulder is “structurally sound”, but have you ever heard of an MLB pitcher with a sound arm taking 6 months off and then stalling out at 90 feet of long-toss for 6 weeks? Of course not. He’s done. Time to join the Hefner fan club! Or head to your friendly rent-a-Lohse store.

  7. Dan B March 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm
    Crozier, since when has averaging 12 games under. 500, like the Mets have since 2009, been considered mediocre? Mediocre is. 500. The Mets have been horrible! By the way, the two things the Mets of 1977 and the Mets of 2009 have in common is that the owner’s child was running the club. In 1977, it was Lorinda de Roulet, daughter of Joan Payson. Now we have the pride of Palm Beach Community College, Jeff Wilson, Fred’s son. The more things change….
  8. Dan B March 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm
    Wilson? Geez, with that kind of error, you’d think Duda was my fact checker.
  9. AC Wayne March 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm
    Not sure why Santana/Mets organization, don’t know which one? decided on having Santana completely shut down and then start back up again at the start of ST, I’m not surprised it has taken this long, he was in a dormant state for about 6 months, let’s face it, Santana is this season’s Chris Young, maybe we’ll see him in September during our push for the 2nd WC, haha
  10. argonbunnies March 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm
    Start your off season early, and generally take it easy?

    Not alarming.

    Go 6 months without even tossing?

    A clear sign that something’s seriously wrong.

  11. DaveSchneck March 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm
    Joe,
    I second Argon’s points above, well said.
    Crozier,
    Unless you consider presiding over a losing team an accomplishment, Alderson has accomplished nothig yet in his Met teure. In fact, objectively speaking, his gaffes outnumber his good moves. Gus makes a legit point about being hamstrung financially, so that has to be take into account. Getting Wheeler appears to be a good move, and I hope Alderson sends Sabean a nice Christmas present each year, but that needs to be proven at the MLB level. Lastly, regarding the span in Met history, this run has been brutal. I did not live through 62-68, but I did the 77-83 run. It was bad, and worse wins/losses wise, but I see the current run as 2007 to today. Those two lemons in 2007 and 2008 were brutal. Losing seasons 4 in a row constitutes horrible, not mediocre, as Dan B. says. Horrible. Until someone can explain otherwise, it is going to be more difficult going from 72 wins in 2013 to compete in 2014 than it would be going from 82 wins in 2013 to compete in 2014. I will try to maintain Gus’s optimism, but right now this squad looks undermanned, and the GM is continuing to do nothing. I wish I could get a job like that.
    • Crozier March 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm
      I’ve been clear that the Mets performance has been unsatisfactory. No need to further clarify that I’m not an apologist for the team. But “horrible” overstates the case. Houston is horrible; keep some perspective.

      My point to Izzy was that the current situation is far from rock bottom. This is a team that’s rebuilding, as they did from 01-05, not hopelessly floundering, as they did from 77-83.

      Now, as to whether this rebuild will be successful is another matter, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the club do well in 2014. Frankly, if everything went unusually well this year (as it did for Oakland and Baltimore last year), they could be not terrible this year; but that’s not likely.

      I won’t call the Alderson reign a failure because his hands were tied for much of it. Blame the Wilpons all you want for that. Alderson may yet prove successful.

      • Dan B March 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm
        If the Wilpons are hindering Alderson (and I agree with that); wouldn’t it make sense the Wilpons were also hindering Omar? Who is to say it wasn’t the Wilpons encouraging Omar to sign Bay over Matt Holliday or any of the other bad signings? Don’t you think it was the Wilpons’ idea to cut the budget to the amateur draft? We put too much faith on these GMs when the owners have been the one constant here. Oh, by the way, I wouldn’t bet the farm on the Mets doing serious rebulding next offseason, either. There are still unresolved money issues with the Wilpons.
        • Crozier March 24, 2013 at 5:05 pm
          Okay, fair point that Alderson may not deserve full credit should (I said should) the Mets succeed anytime soon. As to the Omar-Sandy comparison, Omar was allowed to spend on some quality talent, and it went a long way to making 2006 happen. I hope Sandy gets comparable freedom next year. We’ll see.
        • Joe Janish March 25, 2013 at 11:26 pm
          Many of those “open checkbook” purchases were 100% the decision of Jeff and/or Fred Wilpon — the Jason Bay signing was a prime example. The Wilpons, through the years (before and after Omar) regularly made “big” winter signings for the sole purpose of having something for season-ticket sales reps to talk about.

          Do you think — for a second — that Sandy Alderson recommended David Wright’s extension? That has Wilpon desperation written all over it.

        • argonbunnies March 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm
          Biggest difference between Omar & Sandy:

          Omar usually sounded vague, avoidant, and sometimes dumb. Then he proceeded to make some good moves and some bad ones, which showed little plan and didn’t overall upgrade the team.

          Sandy has usually sounded smart and strategic, though occasionally avoidant. He’s made some good moves and some bad ones, which have showed little plan and haven’t overall upgraded the team.

          *shrug*

          I think the true test of the New Regime will be to see what DePodesta does with our minor league pipeline. We need our young guys to start outperforming initial expectations, just like newcomers to the Braves’ organization always do.

        • Crozier March 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm
          Now hold on a minute, argon. Beltran, Delgado, Martinez, Wagner, and LoDuca were undeniably fine acquisitions that provided a tremendous upgrade to the club (and Chavez didn’t hurt, either). No, it didn’t translate to a championship, but it could have; the talent was there. And if it had, it would have been a legacy on par with any other in the club’s history. Whatever his failings were after that, he brought excellence to New York for a short period.

          Alderson might do more for the long term. For now, he’s unproven. And I agree with you that a good farm system is the way to sustained success.

        • DaveSchneck March 24, 2013 at 10:55 pm
          Crozier,
          You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t believe a good farm system is the way to build sustained success. The point that those of us Alderson skeptics make is that it need not be done at the expense of the MLB team. The best franchises do just that, sustain a robustfeeder system while adding MLB talent to stay competitive most every year. Alderson clearly has not done this.
        • AC Wayne March 25, 2013 at 12:05 am
          To be a legit GM, you have to put the building blocks in place, which Alderson is planning to due, Wheeler, d’Arnaud then when the time is right pick up those character guys ala Keith, Gary, Ojeda during the ’80s, Ventura, Olerud, Leiter, Hampton during the late ’90s, Alderson has asked that fans give him a reprieve until 2014 when he will have all his youngsters on the MLB roster and plenty of payroll flexibility, Alderson may get a pass again this year but 2014 is when he will have to put up or shut up, which means 8-10 games over .500
        • DaveSchneck March 25, 2013 at 8:33 am
          AC,
          Again, everyone loves building blocks. Yes, they have some good “potential” building blocks, which came at the expense of the current Cy Young winner and a borderline HOF OF. Alderson also let go a potential HOF SS, and a quality CF for virtually zip in return. I am not trying to run him out of town, but why does he get a pass in year 3 of a losing tenure when he himself has said he has money to spend? Why not put one or two known quantities around these building blocks so they don’t get destroyed as they try to cut their teeth in NYC? How would one MLB OF and a closer with some track record harm the building plan? When someone provides a logical answer to that question, I will be willing to give Alderson a little more credit. Based on his actions (or inactions), not his words, he has punted on 2013. So, his words have been disingenuous, which is just business as usual for the franchise under this ownership.
        • argonbunnies March 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm
          You’re right. Anyone with the cash could have been the highest bidder for Beltran, Pedro, and Wagner. But Minaya deserves credit for picking the right guys. And also, I guess you could say it was good scouting that the prospects we gave the Marlins never amounted to much. (Or you could call it luck, as Petit looked great in AAA, and Jacobs was the rare hitter whose career nose-dives at 28.)

          I assume that Alderson could perform similarly if handed the money that Minaya had to throw around. But maybe I shouldn’t assume that until we see it.

          On the negative side, we have Ring-Bell-Owens-Lindstrom for Bostick-Johnson-Vargas-Adkins (leading to 2007-2008′s bullpen disasters) and Pagan for Ramirez-Torres (leading to 2012-2013′s outfield disasters). That’s what I meant by “overall”. The GM giveth one year, and taketh the next.

          At least Jae Seo for Duaner Sanchez and Nady for Ollie were good calls…

        • Crozier March 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm
          Joe J: I’ve commented off-point enough, so I’ll throw in my 2 cents on the subject at hand and say I think Santana is finished. I’d love to be disappointed in that regard.
  12. Dan B March 25, 2013 at 6:50 am
    Wayne, most of the players you cite were acquired BEFORE the “building blocks” were established so it hurts your argument. May I have one reason to wait until/if Wheeler, etc… are established? The Mets have payroll flexibility now. The Mets will need about 6 good players added to the roster to be contenders, isn’t it asking too much to get all those players in one or two offseason?
    • DaveSchneck March 25, 2013 at 8:35 am
      Dan,
      You got 35 year old Marlon Byrd, coming off a .210 avg drug suspension year, as your starting RF. What more do you want?
  13. Joe March 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm
    “had an outside shot at a winning season and/or a postseason appearance”

    many of that around here?

    I expected Santana to have something and maybe be worth SOMETHING in July & overall this is pretty sad.

    But, Santana didn’t win that many games last year. Harvey, Wheeler, maybe Hefner (if he has a good year), one or two guys out of the pen & D’Arnaud and maybe (if he shows something) Cowhill and probably someone else will be more on my radar in ’13.

    Still sad, since I thought we’d get more out of Santana & he would not end his time here this badly.